2 out of 4 stars
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Beyond Petra by Mohamed Abueljebain is a non-fiction story about a young Jordanian man who had a dream of immigrating to the United States. After failing to obtain a visa, he decided to immigrate illegally.
Monzy felt he was a failure in his father eyes. He studied to be a hair stylist, instead of working alongside his father on the family farm. Monzy loved his country, but he wanted something more. His love of American movies, especially the Rocky series, inspired him to imitate his hero. He would never give up on his dream. Monzy would do whatever it took to make the trip to the United States.
A customer who came in for a haircut was Monzy's initial contact to begin his odyssey to fulfill his dream. He traveled by plane, bus, and boat. Will the coyotes get him across the border? Can Monzy fulfill his dream or will his nightmares become his reality?
I found this story to be entertaining and educational. The author showed what extremes people will put themselves through to get into the United States. The immigrant leaves their family behind, risks their life to reach a different country, puts their trust in unknown people, and hopes everything will have a happy ending. Their distrust of strangers, fear for their safety, hunger, loneliness, and homesickness begin to feel normal.
I enjoyed the author's descriptions of life in his natal country. He talked about typical Jordanian foods, traditions, customs, and sayings. These descriptions continued as he traveled through Turkey, Greece, and beyond. The author also included historical information about Jordan and Petra.
There were two things I disliked about this book. The first was the numerous grammar mistakes. Incorrect verb forms and misspelled words, such as "quite" for "quiet," frequently appeared in the text. The second was the way the story would present time jumps without any indication to alert the reader. A simple chapter heading would help readers realize when the story had transitioned from the present to the past.
I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. This compelling story offers readers a window into the mindset of an illegal immigrant. The description of the journey and the historical notes hold the reader's interest throughout the book. I lowered the score due to the numerous grammar errors and the absence of any indication of time jumps. This book would appeal to readers who want to understand the motivation behind the risks taken by illegal immigrants. People who want to learn more about Jordan's landscape, especially Petra, and the typical foods and customs of this country would like this book. Readers who are triggered by stories about illegal immigrants may want to pass on this one.
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